on names, identities, and the 90’s. plus some other things.


so, my new job has really been going swimmingly thus far. i think a lot of the reason is because i’m no longer using my legal first name professionally. i’m not going by my preferred name of ocean, because i still feel weird asking people to call me that. i can’t just act like it’s part of my legal name, because i work for the government and they check evvvverything. plus, i really like keeping my personal and professional life separate, and googling “ocean capewell” brings up not only this blog, but a whole lot of things that i’d prefer random middleaged middlebrow co-workers not know about me. (not that i really think anyone’s gonna google me, but you never know)
so, i’ve switched to alice, which is my middle name. i don’t know why this didn’t occur to me years ago. i really, really dislike my first name, not because it is such a bad name in and of itself, but because it is a very real reminder of a terrible time in my life. i used the first name for the first 12 years of my life, when i had pretty much no friends and when absolutely everyone hated me. i was really quiet and considered boring and creepy by pretty much everyone; i was abused at home and tormented at school and was never happy unless i was reading or writing (two activities for which i was routinely made fun of, or which were taken away for little to no reason). it doesn’t sound all that bad, typing it, but it was bad to live through, and once i changed my name my life got interesting and strange, and it’s pretty much stayed that way since.
but, you know, i have to use this name i hate for straight jobs. i’ve definitely had some jobs where i could be ocean, but i’ve spent the last few years working white-collar office jobs. and yeah, i could be brave, but i already have so many strikes against me being weird-looking and not quite gender-conforming, i just don’t want to add another. so i use that name, and it’s weird how much it brings me back to that socially paralyzed, extremely awkward, hopeless place. it’s weird how it seems like the last 16 years of adventures and bravery and gumption have all been erased, and i’m mute again, i’m so afraid and so unable to connect with people. but using “alice” doesn’t bring up any of this, really. it’s a little odd using a name that i don’t associate with myself at all, but ultimately not that big a deal.
some of you readers out there know my legal first name, and that’s fine. it happens sometimes, and as long as you don’t use it in conjunction with me, i don’t really care. and some of you may be wondering what it is. please don’t ask me. i think it’s a good rule of thumb to follow trans name etiquette with everyone who’s changed their name, regardless of whether they are trans or not. (in case you don’t feel like clicking that link, here’s a rundown: don’t ask what my ‘real’ name is. don’t go around telling people my given name if they know it. even if you think my name is stupid, or doesn’t fit, keep that information to yourself and respect that i can make decisions about my life that are important to me. etc.) most people don’t go through all the hassle of a name change–be it legal or informal–for absolutely no reason. we often have very good reasons for keeping our birth names private.

anyway! i have more to say on that subject but i am tired of writing about it. kind of weird that i have used an “illegal” name for 16 years now and this is the first time i’ve really written publicly about what it means to me emotionally and my frustrations around having a name that i’m legally tied to but absolutely can’t stand. (i have not been able to get a legal name change for various reasons)
okay, but really, new topic! another reason why i like my new job is that there is a very relaxed dress code. today i showed up looking kind of like harmony korine in sassy magazine from, like, 1995:

and nobody breathed a word, or even seemed like they noticed. i also wore my ridiculous bright red fake fur coat that i love SO much, and i met amanda for lunch, and i said, “isn’t it weird how i have a real job now but i still look like a total weirdo?” she said “yes” and we giggled together. it was really great.
speaking of the 90’s, i may be a little late to the party, but this “you may be a 90’s woman if…” post totally made me laugh, and realize that i am more of a cliche than i realize. i could relate to every single one of those, except that silly list of people to crush on. i’ve never been the crushing-on-celebrities type. what an odd note to end this post on, but i really have nothing else tonight.


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